Relationship Retail: The Here And Now Shopper

This month in honor of our sponsorship for Retail Design Collective 2014 and our 25th year in business, celebrating creativity and collaboration, Architectural Systems shares insights on how retailers are connecting to the here and now shopper. As Materialista® and actively working with the retail design community, I’ve noticed the evolution in customer engagement and the challenges retail designers have capturing brand loyalty on the every changing platforms to engage in.

Uniqlo for example, the global clothing brand, opened up a pop-up shop selling down jackets and parkas during the cold season last winter in a subway station at Union Square, NYC.  Today, almost everything we need can be found online and internet sales have become a way of life.  However, Uniqlo proved that providing on-the-go services right there and then for shoppers, who are on the move added a personal and value-added service at the point-of-sale. As an additional incentive with purchases, Uniqlo provided a pre-loaded MetroCard. How clever, don’t you think?

Toms founder, Blake Mycoskie, introduced eyewear to his shoe collections in 2011. In keeping with their corporate philosophy, every pair of sunglasses a customer buys, Toms donates medical treatment, prescription glasses or surgery to a person in need. For the here and now shopper this concept expanded into seasonal pop-up carts that were situated in parks on sunny days. Pairing fashion with causes and pop-ups contribute to the retailer’s success, especially when the location and the products you’re selling happen to be in the right place at the right time, allowing retailers to go where the customers are while also building brand awareness. Unlike traditional retail establishments, pop-up stores create a sense of urgency among consumers to buy now as they are presented as a “limited edition” item that people must take advantage of in the moment.

Macy’s Herald Square, one of the most iconic and oldest department stores, co-branded with NYC & Company as an Official NYC Information Center.  This collaboration offers concierge-type services to restaurants, special ticketing for NYC attractions and caters to both a local and international clientele.  This innovative platform enhances the customer shopping experience, advancing Macy’s into one of the most technologically savvy, fashion-forward and exciting destinations; attracting the here and now shopper from all over the world. 

As far as savvy retailers go when it comes to utilizing the mobile web, UK department store John Lewis and Founder of Hointer, Nadia Shouraboura, are enjoying it the most! John Lewis, recently introduced ChargeBox to their London store, a free to use mobile phone charging station, enabling customers to recharge and ensure their phones are safe while shopping. Isn’t that brilliant?

Hointer Store, located in Seattle, Washington is revolutionary, allowing customers to shop quickly with the help of their phone and Hointer’s app. By downloading the app in the store kiosk, a shopper can try on clothes in their size within 30 seconds, simply by scanning the number on the apparel, placing it into a virtual shopping cart and heading to the dressing room number the app sends you to! The shopper can even purchase what they like in the fitting room by swiping a credit/debit card on the tablet located there. Have to buy my next pair of jeans at Hointer!

These store formats present a new perspective that reimagines the shopping experience as technology takes charge, combining services that are relevant with contextual offerings. Providing customers with an immersive experience, shops must remain compelling with reasons for customers to visit them as technology allows shopping to be easier outside the store itself. 

Click and Connect!

The last example I want to share on technology and immersive experience for the here and now involves a cloud based composition collaboration featuring a virtual choir created by Eric Whitacre, a Grammy award-winning Composer and Conductor.  People all over the world uploaded videos of themselves singing as he conducted virtually. The Virtual Choir went viral featuring over 5,000 singers from around the world representing 101 countries. This creative collaboration was constructed to produce a transcending experience, affecting a physical state change, cultivating relationships and uniting people from all backgrounds. This project is about being part of something bigger than ourselves and is very similar to brand integration. Social commerce and sharing cool stuff everyone is talking about, makes for a successful brand experience on all platforms, nurturing the cultured consumer beyond the three-dimensional store environment.  Please treat yourself and watch this amazing video.

As a global distributor and strategic materials partner, ASI collaborates with leading architects, designers and retailers to create well-orchestrated symphonies, while translating the brand with signature and iconic materials. Visit us, during Retail Design Collective, December 3-5, in our newly refreshed showroom located at 150 W. 25th St., 8th Floor, NYC. Preview new innovative product collections and see how the power of materials® deliver the here and now shopper!

Posted at 11/18/2014 9:39 AM

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